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Five-fold increase in users of food banks and soup kitchens

Nearly five times as many people used food banks and soup kitchens in the six months to September than during the whole of 2011/12, according to a Scottish  Government report.

HELPING HAND: First Minister Alex Salmond, visiting a food bank yesterday, has pledged over £9m to help users of food services. Picture: Gordon Terris

Trussell Trust emergency facilities fed 23,073 people between April and September compared with 5,726 in 2011/12, the overview of food aid provision by the Government's social research unit found.

Some 6608 of their users this year have been children, while Glasgow facilities also saw a considerable number of destitute migrants, mainly failed asylum seekers.

Nearly a fifth used a food bank because their benefits changed in April following the UK Government welfare reforms, up from a tenth in 2011/12.

Over half used food banks due to benefit problems in the 2013 period, up from around four in 10 in 2011/12.

The report states welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions and falling incomes have been the main factors driving the recent trend.

It adds: "Soup kitchens in Scotland are used mainly by homeless people who also tend to have long-standing issues.

"Food banks are mainly used by people who are housed but who have little or no income.

"Unlike other locations, Glasgow also has a third category of clients: destitute migrants."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "At this time of year, in particular, it is absolutely unacceptable that anyone in a country as prosperous as Scotland should have to rely on food banks.

"The Scottish Government has provided an additional £9.2 million to the Scottish Welfare Fund.

"This means that local authorities have the capacity to award an extra 5600 community care grants and more than 100,000 crisis grants this year to help those who need it the most.

"I urge the UK Government to publish their long-delayed research into the growth of food banks now."

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